Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

Are people like animals?

16 I saw something else about the people who live in this world.

People should say if something is wrong. But they say that it is right.

They should be fair to each other but they are not fair.

17 ‘God will be the judge of all good people and of all bad people,’ I told myself.

Everything will happen at the right time.

18 ‘Perhaps God wants us to know that we are like animals,’ I thought. 19 Like animals, we live and then we die. We really are the same as animals. So our life means nothing for us or for them. 20 People and animals go to the same place. God made animals and people from the same dry material on the ground. And when they die, they both become dry material on the ground again. 21 We need to know what happens after our death. We think that the spirit of a man goes up. And we think that the spirit of an animal goes down towards the ground. But nobody really knows. 22 So we should enjoy our work. That is the best thing that we can do. That is what God wants us to do. But we do not know what there is after death.

3:22The Teacher tells us what happens after our death. In verse 20, he repeats what is in Genesis 3:19. When animals and people die, their dead bodies become like the dry material on the ground. So we should enjoy what God has given to us now. God sees all that we do. But the Teacher believes that we have a different ‘spirit’ (Ecclesiastes 3:21). It is different from an animal's ‘spirit’. The Teacher wrote this book in the Hebrew language (the language that the readers spoke at that time). The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’ can mean several things. It can mean ‘breath’. (Breath is the air that goes into the nose. And then it goes out of it.) Or it can mean ‘spirit’. It can also mean ‘our thoughts’. The Teacher says more about this in Ecclesiastes 12:7.